Sunday, January 24, 2010


My favorite part of this trip was experiencing Germany for the first time. It is a country I have wanted to visit my whole life, but I never before had the opportunity. I learned first-hand that German spoken in the "real world" is much different than the artificial setting of the classroom.

One of my favorite events on the trip was seeing the Nutcracker Ballet performed at the Opera House in Vienna. It was my first time seeing that play performed and seeing it performed in such a beautiful, famous opera house made it an experience I am not likely to forget.

Another unforgettable moment would be seeing Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle looked nearly indescribably beautiful covered in snow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Heidelberg was my favorite German city on this trip. I like that it is a university city and I felt that I could identify with the city because one-third of the population are students. I enjoyed seeing Heidelberg University. It is difficult to believe that the school has existed for over 600 years. I found it interesting that Robert Bunsen, who invented the bunsen burner, once taught there.

I also enjoyed seeing the castle in Heidelberg. The castle is not intact: many parts of it are still in ruins. But somehow that only adds to its charm. Mark Twain also made notice of this in his book A Tramp Abroad1:
A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect. One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one half has tumbled aside. It tumbled in such a way as to establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it lacked was a fitting drapery, and Nature has furnished that; she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure, and made it a charm to the eye. The standing half exposes its arched and cavernous rooms to you, like open, toothless mouths; there, too, the vines and flowers have done their work of grace. The rear portion of the tower has not been neglected, either, but is clothed with a clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is crowned with a flourishing group of trees & shrubs. Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it

Twain, Mark, A Tramp Abroad, (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1879) 278-279.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I spent my afternoon in Munich at the Deutsches Museum. The museum has over 50 exhibits dedicated to science and technology. Unfortunately, the chemistry exhibit of the museum was closed that day, and that was the exhibit that I was most interested in seeing. I really enjoyed the physics and math exhibits of the museum. I had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of liquid nitrogen experiments in the physics exhibit. The math exhibit was also an interesting experience: the exhibit was filled with games and puzzles that required logic and math. Although I spent several hours exploring the different exhibits of the Deutsches Museum, I felt that there was still so much I did not see, and I would be interested in returning to the museum if I am in Munich again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Vienna was my favorite city on this trip. The city has my two favorite things: horses and music.

I used my free time in Vienna to tour the Spanish Riding School. As a dressage rider, I have always been fascinated with the oldest dressage school in the world and two years ago I saw the famous Lipizzans on tour in Washington D.C. The school is located in the beautiful Hofburg Palace and houses over 70 horses. When I was touring the school, I learned about the training and care of the horses.

In Vienna, I also had the opportunity to visit the Haus der Musik. The museum contains exhibits about science and music, famous composers, and even a virtual reality program where one can conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Arriving in Budapest, I was very thankful that most people spoke fluent English there. I was concerned about attempting to navigate the city without speaking a word of Hungarian.

Budapest seemed to be a very unusual city. The city is divided by the Danube River into two sections: Buda and Pest. Buda is the western part of the city and is quite hilly compared to the eastern, flat Pest. Pest contains the inner city and such landmarks as Heroes' Square and the Hungarian Parliament.

One of my most notable experiences in Budapest was our cruise on the Danube River. The city had a completely different feel when it was all lit up at night.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


After spending the afternoon in the quaint charming town of Dresden, Prague came as a bit of a shock. The city is extravagant and dazzling.

Our first night in Prague, we walked to Prague Castle. The castle, which is one of the largest in the world, gave a beautiful view of the city at night. The next day, we took a tour of the city that included St. Vitus Cathedral, the Charles Bridge, and the astronomical clock. In Prague Castle we walked down the Golden Lane which was once home to author Franz Kafka.


On day 4 of the trip, we spent a snowy afternoon in Dresden when we were on our way to Prague.

My favorite part of Dresden was seeing Zwinger Palace. The palace was a former fortress and although it was destroyed in 1945, it has since been rebuilt. Zwinger Palace exemplifies German baroque architecture; the palace and grounds are breath-taking.

In my free time in Dresden a few friends and I went to a restaurant for lunch. The waitress didn't speak much English, so the experience made me realize how much I had been relying on my English in Berlin.

Monday, January 4, 2010


My expectations for Berlin were much different than what I actually experienced. I had heard that Berlin was a very industrial city, so it came as something of a surprise to see such an exciting and beautiful city.

The first afternoon in Berlin we went to a Christmas market. We got to try the German drink Glühwein, which is an interesting spiced, hot wine. We saw the Emperor William Memorial Church, which is a church built to honor Emperor William I. The church was destroyed during the air bombings of WW2, but later restored.

The next day in Berlin, we toured the city by bus. On the tour we saw historically signifcant landmarks in Berlin such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Rathaus Schöneberg, and the memorial dedicted to the Jewish victims of WW2. My favorite part of the tour was the East Side Gallery. It is a section of the Berlin Wall that was not torned down. The wall is decorated with paintings that celebrate the unity of Berlin and the freedom of the East side.